Israel’s Holy See ambassador, Zion Evrony, announced that a recent string of graffiti on Christian holy areas in Jerusalem must be publicly addressed or else it can harm Israel’s image as a nation that enjoys freedom of religion.
Evrony and Pope Benedict XVI met in Rome for a meeting to discuss the current relationship shared between Israel and the Vatican. The vandalism has been termed as “price tag” assaults and has been widely condemned by the Catholic Church in Italy. Despite the recent wave of vandalism, the pope and ambassador met under positive circumstances as the former was presented a gold figurine of a dove that symbolized peace. The meeting concluded with the pope sending a prayer of blessing to the Israeli people.
Price tag vandalism began recently when unknown vandals spray painted defamatory comments on the walls of a monastery on Mount Zion. The graffiti contained inscriptions that read “Jesus, son of a whore, price tag.”
The assailants remain on the loose though authorities suspect that the culprits may be tied to an extreme pro-settler Jewish organization that have already claimed responsibility for similar attacks on mosques, churches and even equipment belonging to the Israeli military. The vandalism is believed to be in retaliation for what is perceived by the group as Israel’s pro-Palestinian policies set by the government.
Christians make up less than two percent of the country’s population but have already faced repeated instances of defacing of their sacred sites. President Shimon Peres has publicly denounced the attacks and said that the actions are not values shared by the Jewish community.
Just a month prior, when a settlement outpost in the West Bank that was illegally built was torn down, vandals responded by spray painting a door on a monastery with the inscription “Jesus is a Monkey.”